Apple has aired a new iPhone commercial, Photos Every Day. Unlike previous, recent commercials, it eschews cheery music, chanting, and a rapid fire parade of apps to focus on the camera and a select few camera apps, and on capturing those special moments, at a variety of times, in a variety of places, under a wide variety of conditions. It's a return to the "technology is not enough"-style commercial, the kind they once used for the iPad 2 when spec-splattering Android tablets first began hitting the market.
At first glance, it might seem like a reaction to something like the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC One cameras, both of which boast optical image stabilization (OIS), among other technologies, that help improve photos under low-light when subjects are relatively stationary. However, while they're great phones and great cameras, neither of them will likely sell in anything approaching numbers meaningful enough to Apple. The just-launched Samsung Galaxy S4, on the other hands, is just as mass-market, and aimed just as much at "everyday" photography as the iPhone.
I spent much of the last week shooting photos with Alex Dobie as he prepared for his Galaxy S4 review, and while he called it the best all-around Android camera to date, to my eyes the iPhone 5 still out-shot it under a wider range of conditions, including and especially in low-light. Like the phone itself, and as usual, it came off as spec-heavy but ultimately scattered and soul-less.
Opinions on that can and will vary, however, which is likely why we're getting this commercial now, and in this way. The Galaxy S4 will be the biggest threat to iPhone 5 sales for the next few months, and the biggest challenge to the iPhone 5s when it hits the market later this year.
And it'll be just as spec-splattered as Samsung's offerings have ever been. So, as Apple did with the iPad 2, they need to once again re-frame the discussion from specs to experience.
Technology like the glass stacked inside the incredibly thin casing (that doesn't require an unsightly bump on the back), the image signal processor (ISP) baked into the custom Apple A6 processor (that's consistent across every iPhone 5 sold around the world), and the excellent software that drives it all is important, but it's not enough.
Simple, elegant, coherent apps that results in amazing looking photos whenever and wherever they're taken -- that's what matters, and that's what Apple's showing in this ad.